Dorothy’s House of Coffee allows visitors to “step into a story”

FLINT, Michigan -- Walking up to the front porch of Dorothy’s House of Coffee (503 East Street in the East Village Neighborhood) and entering through the bright red doors transports you into  an unexpected  place. Music from the record player fills the air, accompanying  the smell of fresh ground coffee and crepes. Dark painted walls, warm wood accents, Edison light bulbs, and old church pews fill the space. In every room, photographs and painted portraits of a woman engage with you directly. The woman’s face is filled with lines that hold untold stories. Her dress is humble and her look is piercing. A quote -- “The only solution is love and that love comes with community” accompanies one of the images of the woman pictured, Dorothy Day. 
“The only solution is love and that love comes with community,” is a quote that accompanies one of the images of Dorothy Day inside the coffee house.
“People that have been coming in feel like they're stepping into a story somehow,” said Tim Goodrich, owner of Dorothy’s House of Coffee, when describing the  newly renovated space. “It feels special and I think people are getting that.”

Day, an American journalist, social activist, anarchist, and suffragette, is the coffee shop’s namesake. “I feel like there are things that I'm supposed to learn by way of the whole example of Dorothy Day. I need to learn more and keep growing,” Goodrich. 

Day was a complex woman who suffered from the loss of lovers, isolation after having an abortion, and endured it all while trying to better understand socialism and its implications for the poor. After reforming to Catholicism in her 30s and still holding on to her social and political views, she co-founded the Catholic Worker movement that is still active today. She is well-known for her pacifism that motivated her to raise awareness for the hungry, poor, and marginalized communities. Her work started during the Great Depression and carried on through the Vietnam war and until her death in 1980.

Day’s dedication to a future of true equality by unifying is in the nuances of Dorothy Day’s Coffee House. It is Goodrich’s goal to not only provide a unique experience for customers upon entering the shop but also provide a space for authentic community. Goodrich in a previous interview had stated, “I think that the happiest and healthiest people are those who enjoy a high level of community and social bonds.” Community and interpersonal relationships are a recurring theme in Goodrich’s life. 
Pictures and paintings of Dorothy Day fill the corners and walls of Dorothy Day's Coffee House in East Village.Goodrich has always found unique and special ways to interact with others throughout his life. His career originally started within a church as an assistant pastor, but after the church closed, Goodrich switched gears and became an apprentice for hand-making boots out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After finishing his apprenticeship, he returned home and opened a custom boot store Sutorial Boots in Buckham Alley in 2013. There, Goodrich, a Flint native, developed a deeper love and appreciation for Flint and its residents. “One thing I love about Flint is it is down to Earth, like very salt of the earth,” he said. 

In 2020, Goodrich’s boot requests and sales came to a halt during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns. Through a series of personal intimate experiences and conversations, Goodrich felt the providential push to work with the Catholic Community of Flint. Dorothy Day’s Coffee House was nearing closure due to the financial burden that the Catholic Community of Flint could no longer fund and staff the shop adequately. Goodrich’s takeover of the coffee house was strongly supported by the local Catholic community, its leadership, and previous Sutorial Boot customers. The shop’s grand reopening on August 1 gave hope for the shop’s trajectory to continue improving.
Timothy Goodrich preps a drink behind the coffee bar for a customer inside of Dorothy Day's Coffee House in East Village.“We had a good grand opening,” said Goodrich. “People have been coming in and enjoying the experience and then telling other people and sharing about it online. And so it feels like we're getting traction. It's moving in the right direction. If you compare the numbers to what they used to be before they're higher, but they still need to be higher than they are now if we're really wanting to be long-term sustainable.”

Goodrich also hasn’t given up boot-making. Sutorial’s equipment is slowly transitioning into the coffee shop and, eventually, Goodrich hopes to maintain both avenues there.

Dorothy Day’s Coffee House is a nonprofit that takes suggested donations for menu items. The coffee is sourced from Black Diesel Coffee in Ann Arbor. The coffee house is open Tuesday-Friday, 7a.m.-3 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m.-noon. 
Goodrich pauses and thinks about the definition of community, "We are created for community," he says. "It is the essence of life."Goodrich is intentional about the space and energy that fills the coffee house. His personal philosophy on life as a whole is, “I think who you are is supposed to proceed what you do,” he said. “That is to say, it is more important than what you do. And so a relationship is supposed to be, whether it’s a friendship, romantic relationship, or even a business relationship, to me it is supposed to be more about you caring for that person as a person, rather than seeing that person as a means to an end. We are created for community. It is the essence of life.”

Read more articles by Jenifer Veloso.